Despite progress, interoperability remains barrier for continued medical informatics adoption

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Although healthcare providers across the U.S. remain committed to the adoption of medical informatics systems, interoperability is still a significant challenge for many hospitals and physician practices, reports Healthcare IT News.

New research data from the Optum Institute suggests that many chief information officers (CIOs) are still concerned about the cost implications of interoperability standards between medical informatics networks and third-party healthcare IT systems.

“As we enter 2012, hospitals have made impressive gains in the uptake of electronic medical records, participation in health information exchanges and progress toward achieving meaningful use,” reads the report. “But technology gaps remain, genuine interoperability remains elusive, and as a result, hospitals report still being some way off full readiness for the challenges headed their way in terms of managing greater population health and financial risk.”

According to the Optum survey, 87 percent of healthcare facilities polled have implemented a clinical informatics solution. Of these providers, 70 percent of CIOs reported that their medical informatics usage had achieved stage one certification under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ meaningful use federal financial incentive program. An additional 75 percent said they remained confident of stage two certification by 2014.

Many healthcare providers’ commitment to healthcare IT was further exemplified by the prevalence of health information exchanges (HIE) among survey participants. Of the facilities using a medical informatics solution, 71 percent indicated they were also involved in an HIE project. Approximately 74 percent of hospitals not currently engaged in an HIE initiative plan to do so next year.

Other key findings of the report suggest that 60 percent of CIOs plan to adopt cloud-based services for their medical informatics systems in the future. A majority of these CIOs believes their clinical informatics solutions will be fully interoperable with cloud-based services. Additional functionality and increased access to healthcare applications were cited as two primary reasons for planned migration to cloud-based services.